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Traveling where the dollar is strong

Traveling where the dollar is strong If you're earning a salary in US currency and are unlucky enough to spend it traveling internationally, you know the pain of the depreciating dollar. The rest of the world has become frighteningly expensive as the dollar continues its slide. My recent trip to North Korea,...

Independence days and elephants

Independence days and elephants I've whipped out my International Calendar to see what might be left to tell about November before it slips away from Eastern Standard Time in a few hours. What I see is a whole lot of independence days and a slew of other politically geared occasions. Nov....

The bizarre painted buildings of Tirana, Albania

The bizarre painted buildings of Tirana, Albania When Edi Rama was elected Mayor of Tirana, Albania, he inherited a capital which nearly fifty years of isolationism had left horribly dilapidated. Like so many other cities behind the Iron Curtain, the capital of Albania emerged from the oppressive regime bathed in...

Gadling on the Road Archives

Gadling on the Road Archives Here at Gadling we pride ourselves in putting our money where our mouth is. In other words, we write about travel because we are all travelers. This is our passion, this is our hobby, this is our life. Unfortunately, we can't all travel 100% of the time. But, when we do hit...

What's the Deal with Albanian Teddy Bears?

What's the Deal with Albanian Teddy Bears? When researching an upcoming trip to Eastern Europe, I ran across an interesting thread in Lonely Planet's travel forum, Thorn Tree, called "Albanian teddy bears." It reads: "Anyone know why Albanians hang teddy bears from the rooves [sic] of their houses? It seems to be all...

Biografi: Tracking Down a Dictator's Double in Albania

Biografi: Tracking Down a Dictator's Double in Albania Historical fiction is a popular genre; historical fiction travel writing is not. And yet, Lloyd Jones has managed to embark on this literary journey and produce a remarkable travel book that expertly combines an insightful travel narrative with a healthy dash of fiction....

Update: A Town Named WHAT?

Update: A Town Named WHAT? Last Friday I put a call-out for readers to share the funny town names they've run across in their travels, and we got a ton of great responses! Without further delay, I give you some of the more interesting results of this captivating geographical research: Gadling...

Word for the Travel Wise (01/20/07)

Word for the Travel Wise (01/20/07) Don't let the cat get your tongue when trying to say hello in Albanian. I think you'll find this one fairly easy to say. Today's word is an Albanian word used in Albania: tung - hello Albanian is spoken in Albania, Kosovo, Greece, Serbia and Montenegro, and the Republic of...

A town named WHAT?

A town named WHAT? A recent post on Boing Boing rounded up some funny city names from around the world, including places like Feces (in Spain), Puke (in Albania), and one previously mentioned unmentionable on Gadling a few years back. This got me wondering: how many odd city names can we track...

Albania: New York Times Top Budget Destination for 2007

Albania: New York Times Top Budget Destination for 2007 I was pleased to learn that the New York Times has chosen Albania as its budget destination of the year for 2007. Having traveled through the country last summer, I have to agree with writer Matt Gross's assessment that Europe's last hermit kingdom has finally emerged as a...

Word for the Travel Wise (11/29/06)

Word for the Travel Wise (11/29/06) While I've certainly slacked off of giving the Albanian language any real type of love, Neil keeps Albania alive in his Red Corner pieces. If you've forgotten he also explored parts of the country earlier this year, so if you missed his good words of knowledge and travel...

Red Corner: Albania's Bad Rap

Red Corner: Albania's Bad Rap Albania doesn't exactly have the same reputation for travelers as a place like Italy or France. Those who tend to visit, however, come back with glowing reviews. Well, most of them do anyway. We posted a few months ago about a piece by A. A. Gill who basically ripped the...

Red Corner: Balkan Odyssey Tour

Red Corner: Balkan Odyssey Tour We're usually not in the habit of plugging group tours here at Gadling, however, I recently came across one highlighted in the LA Times which covers many of the same places I recently traveled during my Balkan Odyssey this last summer. Kutrubes Travel is offering an 18-day...

Red Corner: Historic Albania

Red Corner: Historic Albania When I visited Albania a few months ago, I had to choose between the north of the country where the stunning Alps reigned supreme, or the south where gobs of ancient Greek and Roman ruins lay scattered about. I chose the north and had a wonderful time. The south still...

Red Corner: Polluted Albania

Red Corner: Polluted Albania Having recently returned from a trip to Albania, I was disappointed to run across a rather frank assessment of the pollution problems which currently plague the developing nation and negatively effect its tourist trade. Transitions Online, which covers problems faced by...

Red Corner: Tirana Slandered

Red Corner: Tirana Slandered Every once in awhile I run across a travel article that completely gets it wrong. Having recently spent a very enjoyable time in Albania, I was very disappointed to read A.A. Gill's unfair rip on the country that was recently published in The Times (UK). Sure, the country...

Balkan Odyssey Part 15: Albania Wrap-Up

Balkan Odyssey Part 15: Albania Wrap-Up Balkan Odyssey will continue but before moving on to Montenegro, I though I'd just wrap up the Albania segment with a few thoughts. First off, I highly recommend this country. A few years ago it was almost impossible to travel here as a result of the craziness and crime...

Balkan Odyssey Part 14: Bunkers, Bunkers, Bunkers!

Balkan Odyssey Part 14: Bunkers, Bunkers, Bunkers! It's impossible to speak about traveling through Albania without mentioning the bunkers. The bunkers are the product of the demented, twisted mind of dictator Enver Hoxha who ruled the country from 1945 to 1981. During this time he broke off relations with the Soviet...

Balkan Odyssey Part 13: Shkodra, Albania

Balkan Odyssey Part 13: Shkodra, Albania Sometime there are disappointing travel days and this was one of them. My goal was to get from Prizren, Kosovo, to Shkodra, Albania. To do so, I woke early and went to the Prizren bus station where I was hoping to grab a minivan across the border to Kukës. It was told,...

Balkan Odyssey Part 12: Kosovo!!!

Balkan Odyssey Part 12: Kosovo!!! After spending a few days in the mountains of northern Albania, it came time to leave the village of Valbona. The best way to do so is to hike up the valley and over a mountain pass to the village of Thethi. This 7-hour hike is supposed to be amazing and should be done...

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